Though the format is attractive, its rambling airiness will disappoint Lindgren fans and have a limited audience.

IN THE LAND OF TWILIGHT

The third book from this Swedish team relates a fanciful dream tale that sharply contrasts with their realistic previous two (A Calf for Christmas and Goran’s Great Escape, 2010, 2011).

Told in first person by a boy who’s been told he won’t walk again because of a bad leg, the tale recounts his visit to the Land of Twilight with Mr. Lilyvale, who comes through his window. They fly over the sights and scenes of Stockholm, from the spire of St. Clara’s Church to Kronoberg Park, where red and yellow candies grow on trees. The boy drives a tram off a bridge and into a river and then steers a bus to a countryside farm, where he meets a talking moose, dances and eats. Mr. Lilyvale even presents him at court to the King and Queen of the Land of Twilight. Throughout their travels, Mr. Lilyvale repeatedly says, “Nothing really matters in the Land of Twilight,” with the last sentence explicitly affirming the sentiment: “It really doesn’t matter if you have a bad leg, because in the Land of Twilight you can fly.” The message seems questionable here—that your imagination can take you anywhere? At times readers may find themselves wondering if it isn't an extended metaphor for death. The watercolor illustrations waft across the pages, incorporating twilight colors in a breezy style.

Though the format is attractive, its rambling airiness will disappoint Lindgren fans and have a limited audience. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-86315-886-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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